7 luglio 2014

A trip to Taif with Gian Luca Perris (2/3)

(this article originates in the previous post)
Taif is a Saudi city located almost two thousand meters high, in the province of Mecca. Although the area is not far from the sea, the sudden mountain elevation provides an unique climate in the Arabian Peninsula: here it rains more often and the temperature range is greater, making it possible to grow flowers, vegetables and fruits of particularly high quality. 
Like other kinds of hardy plants, roses, too, give their best when grown in a not completely favorable environmental condition, and two thousands meters are quite an altitude for this flower!
The harvest starts around 4:30 am, and is performed by Pakistani or Indian workers, who only select  specimens that are just starting to bloom; collection ends up late in the morning and the flowers are immediately brought to laboratories -they're approximately twenty- for processing. There, roses are not weighed, but... counted! 

A thousand roses are a basket full, and when the total reaches 12 baskets they're introduced in the stills.
The modern distillation process, in the West, requires flowers to get into direct contact with steam, while here in Taif, roses are still immersed in water, without even inserting a filter

Water used in the distillation process is 40% rose water derived from previous distillations. 

Stills are then closed with a lid, and sealed with... tape!  The lid gets saturated with steam, which then is led to a cascade of cold water, cooling it down immediately and separating the result of the distillation (water below, oil on top). 

The distillation process lasts a couple of hours and the result of twelve thousand flowers is a demijohn of rose water, which only 10-12 grams of is precious essential oil.  
Oil is then collected with a syringe and allowed to rest. 
The harvesting season lasts three months, and every producer gets at maximum 20-30 kilos of oil. 

How much does it cost? About 70,000 euros per kilo: Taif rose is maybe the most expensive raw material, especially if you compare it to the -already costly-  damask rose oil (10-12,000 euros per kilo) and  absolute (5-6,000 euros per kilo).
The article continues!

(Heartfelt hanks to Gian Luca Perris of Perris Monte Carlo for the pictures!)
This post follows here

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